What’s on TV: PBS’s American Masters First Documentary About Tony And Pulitizer-Winning Playwright August Wilson

by Sandi Berg
AugustWilson

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chris Bennion

August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand premieres Friday in honor of the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth and coincides with Black History Month. It airs at 9 p.m. (check local listings for PBS stations)

Unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings bring to life his seminal 10-play cycle chronicling each decade of the 20th-century African-American experience; including the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Piano Lesson.
 
Film and theater luminaries, including Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks and Phylicia Rashad, share their stories of the career- and life-changing experience of bringing Wilson’s rich theatrical voice to the stage. Wilson’s sister Freda Ellis; his widow, costume designer Constanza Romero; friends; colleagues and scholars trace Wilson’s influences, creative evolution, triumphs, struggles and quest for cultural determinism before his untimely death from liver cancer.

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